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'Throwing good money after bad'

But it was in May that the true extent of Cook’s troubles were laid bare when it revised down the value of assets from its 2007 merger with MyTravel by some £1.1 billion, sending its losses spiralling to a staggering £1.45 billion.


Cook said in July it was in “advanced discussions” with its largest shareholder, Chinese travel giant Fosun, over a £750 million restructure.


The proposal, said Cook at the time, would bring £750 million fresh funding “to provide sufficient liquidity to trade over the winter 2019/20 season” and “the financial flexibility to invest in the business for the future”.


Its debts continued to mount though; that £750 million restructure became a £900 million rescue effort, conditional on £200 million cash headroom for the winter. It proved insurmountable.


A late attempt to revive interest in its northern European business to raise the necessary funds failed, while transport secretary Grant Shapps has since said Cook’s last-ditch plea to government for a £150 million subvention – had it been granted – would have been tantamount to “throwing good money after bad”.

Cook’s illustrious history sadly counted for little come the end when it failed to plan quickly or decisively enough for its future. Saddled with enormous debt, the company’s management was unable to execute change quickly enough to alter Cook’s course, despite a concerted effort in the past two or three years to pivot. As one commenter put it to me, the 2011 bailout was little more than a sticking plaster that left former CEO Harriet Green and latterly Peter Fankhauser “spending their whole time fighting fires”. While Cook’s collapse is a desperately sad development for the travel sector, it is a salutary lesson that no one is too big to fail.

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